Collaborative Series Shines Light on Many Voices Addressing Climate Solutions

Thursday, February 25, 2021

LAWRENCE – A University of Kansas spring program series will feature contributors to the 2020 book “All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis.” Each event will feature dialogue across study and practice and compel attendees to think about climate in both contemporary terms and historical context, recognizing that climate change disproportionately affects minority and low-income communities. 

The first event will feature artist Favianna Rodriguez in conversation with artist Imani Wadud, doctoral student in American studies, at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 3. All events are free and open to the public. 

The series results from interdisciplinary collaboration across departments and centers, launched through The Commons. Events will invoke the essays, poems and personal narratives of "All We Can Save," edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson, to frame individual and collective agency around the urgency of climate change. Contributors to the series will share their work, offering ideas for action, survival and nourishment.

"The complex challenges and opportunities presented by a climate-changed present and future require that we include the strategies, methods and perspectives of everyone willing to contribute, and 'All We Can Save' does a masterful job of elevating voices that for too long have often been left out of these critical discussions," said Ali Brox, assistant teaching professor in the Environmental Studies Program and series co-creator. 

The editors of the book observe that climate change is often discussed in scientific terms but that the work of responding to the urgency of climate change requires a range of expertise. Global social movements and grassroots activism, cultural and creative practices, religious and spiritual engagement, and food production, among other realms, all play critical roles in this larger conversation about the effects of climate change.

Poet Megan Kaminski, KU associate professor of English, is a collaborator on the series, which will connect with her class Writing and Ecology.

“Poems, art and other creative works help us move beyond data to feel into our current moment — to fathom statistics, events and processes whose scale exceeds our own human scope of understanding, to mourn for those lost, to connect with each other and to imagine the world differently,” she said.

Kathryn Rhine, senior faculty fellow in the University Honors Program, plans to amplify the voices of contributors to "All We Can Save" through the program’s newly created Common Cause Symposium. This annual event is designed to build community in the honors program, foster intellectual engagement and inspire informed action around questions of social justice and racial equity.

“Honors students are eager to interrogate the power structures that determine whose stories are told (and whose aren't), which value systems guide intervention (and which beliefs are disregarded), and what more diverse and equitable collaborations can do to produce sustainable change,” said Rhine, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology. 

Inspired by Rodriguez’s arts interventions with the California-based Center for Cultural Power, the University Honors Program will also host a social justice poster-making workshop to accompany Rodriguez and Wadud’s presentations.

This series is led by The Commons, the Environmental Studies Program, the KU departments of African & African-American Studies, English, Geography & Atmospheric Science and Geology, with support from the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, the Global Grasslands CoLab, the KU Sawyer Seminar, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Global Awareness Program, the Health Humanities and Arts Research Collaborative and the University Honors Program.